File this under good news that you can still feel ashamed about.
We often cite two stats to highlight how dismal the problem of teen pregnancy is in Texas — and the poor commentary it offers on state policy-makers’ addiction to abstinence-only programs. One of those stats is the overall teen pregnancy rate and the other is the rate of repeat births to teen mothers.
On the overall rate, Texas is holding steady at third-worst among the 50 states. But on repeat births to teens, we’re happy(?) to report that we no longer have the worst rate and are now tied with Arizona for the second worst.
This according to the publication Child Trends, which ranked Mississippi as the state with the highest rate of teens who have given birth more than once.
Keep this news in your pocket for the next time your Mississippi friends try tell you about how much better their state is. And remind your Arizona friends they better not abandon us at No. 2 by doing something silly like teaching comprehensive sex education. The shame stings a little less when it’s divided by two.
Texas, of course, doesn’t teach comprehensive sex education. At least most of Texas doesn’t. Our 2009 report found that 94 percent of the state’s school districts relied on abstinence-only instruction when it came to sex ed. Texas has also gobbled up the most federal dollars to teach abstinence-only. Money well spent, eh?
This also calls into question Gov. Rick Perry’s claim in this now infamous interview:
“I’m going to tell you from my own personal life, abstinence works!”
Yeah, for you, maybe. For Texas teens, not so much.
Now let’s see how the far right tries to spin this one ahead of next year’s adoption of new health curriculum standards by the State Board of Education. Will they choose honest, evidence-based sex education? Or will they continue on the same path and pretty much make it a certainty that Mississippians will be able to say, in a southern twang, “Well, at least we’re not Texas.”
You can become one of the many Texans working to improve sex ed in our state’s public schools. Consider becoming a member of your school district’s School Health Advisory Council. We can show you how.